Taking Your First Job: Where the Rubber Meets the Road and Starting Off: Where Not to Begin

Brandt, Alisa

Akers, A. (2016, July 14). Taking your First job: Where the rubber meets the
    road [Blog post]. Retrieved from Knowledge Quest website:

Akers, A. (2016, August 10). Starting off: Where not to begin [Blog post].
    Retrieved from Knowledge Quest website: http://knowledgequest.aasl.org/


Anne Akers wrote these two blog posts about a month apart this summer and they both offer excellent advice to library students as they land their first school library jobs.
When asked by a former student after being hired for a perfect school library job, Akers is asked where to start? Entering a new library can be overwhelming and full of many projects from weeding to hanging up posters. Aker suggests not making any dramatic changes right away until you have the lay of the land. She recommends starting with small, easily accomplished tasks that give a sense of accomplishment. She also suggests setting the tone and vision of the library by posting the mission statement at the Standards for 21st Century Learners in prominent places in the library. All of her suggestions start with people and relationships.
In her follow up blog post, Aker explains further why she said to NOT start with the collection but instead to prioritize relationships. She says that to start those critical early days establishing yourself by focusing on the collection reinforces a certain stereotype (guardians of books) and does not build relationships. Schools need librarians who will be teachers and part of what takes place in the classrooms.

Evaluation: These two posts are so important for establishing how teacher librarians are perceived at what we can all do to change the stereotypes of libraries and librarians of yore. It means having a vision and confidently displaying it through the library environment and the actions of the librarian. I believe this is useful for librarians starting their first job and seasoned librarians who have been working in the same school for decades. Visions should adapt and while it takes a while to undo old visions, it is nevertheless an important task to take.

Physical Space + Thinking = Cultures of Learning

Brandt, Alisa

Lange, J. (2016, August 9). Physical space + learning = cultures of learning
    [Blog post]. Retrieved from Independent Ideas website: http://aislnews.org/



This is a very short blog post about how physical spaces in a school (and library) should reflect the kind of learning activity that takes place there. Lange was inspired to write this post after attending a conference in which author Ron Ritchhart presented a session based off of his book, Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools. Richhart suggests that the activity in a classroom “shifts” from one in which the teacher presents material to the class to one where students and adults can work collaboratively. Richhart suggests that there are three kinds of learning spaces: “caves” (for individuals); “watering holes” (small groups); and “campfires” (large groups led by a “storyteller”).
The article continues with some suggestions for creating these spaces. Lange recommends displaying student work and surfaces covered in whiteboard paint so students can demonstrate their thinking. She also shares that she created a kind of Harry Potter “house sorting” book display for students to “sort” their summer reading into one of the three houses from the book. This demonstrates peer thinking in an open and shared space. And finally Lange offers another suggestion from Richhart to go on a “ghost walk” through other educators’ classrooms to get a sense of the kind of activities and what types of learning happens there and how that can be enhanced by the library.

Evaluation: I am very interested in reading Mr. Richhart’s book after reading Lange’s post but I have to say that I see some underwhelming examples of how to use the author’s suggestions. I would be curious to know more about Richhart’s thinking about physical spaces and how they create cultures of learning. Certainly displaying student work gives an example of a particular learning culture and it becomes a way to echo and reinforce those cultures. But I would also like to learn how to create those spaces in my library. We have already seen that our group study rooms from individuals or small groups works well in addition to our open group study areas. We also have two classrooms for a “campfire” space. But I think it would be great to be able to learn how to help individuals more.

Are Dewey’s Days Numbered?

Litzinger, Vicki

Kaplan, Tali Balas; Dolloff, Andrea K.; Giffard, Sue; Still-Schiff, Jennifer (2012). Are Dewey’s days numbered? School Library Journal, 58(10), 24-28, Retrieved from


This article explains the process from idea to conception of doing away with Dewey and creating a new system–categories, subcategories, order, call numbers, and labels–that met the needs of the users at Ethical Cultural Fieldston School in New York City. Two of their earliest questions were “Why are we using decimals in a children’s library, when they don’t learn that until fourth-grade math? And why are our picture books arranged by author, when most children are more interested in the content than in who wrote the book?” (p26) They turned to the work of Linda Cooper, a professor at New York’s Queens College Graduate School of Library and Information Science who studied the ways that children categorize topics and themes, and integrated students thoughts into the planning of the new system. They also developed three guiding principles to keep them on track. The new system had to be child-centered, browsable, and flexible. After two years of hard work, they have found that students, teachers, parents, and the rest of the community love the new system, and that they are “better able to collaborate and support the school-wide curriculum.” (28)

It was very validating for me to read this article and discovering that colleagues have had the same questions as I have. For instance, one of my primary challenges has been teaching decimals to students who haven’t learned them yet in their math curriculum! The authors explained the process, challenges, and opportunities thoroughly which would be very useful for others wanting to go through a similar process. They also mentioned the work of Linda Cooper, they also listed the URL for the website they created so others can share their ideas and work. Finally, there’s plenty of anecdotal information to use if needed when discussing these changes with teachers, students, and administrators.